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''Grey's Anatomy'': The pleasures of guilt

On ”Grey’s Anatomy,” Derek insists he’s as guilty as Addison as they settle their divorce; meanwhile, Izzie doesn’t quit, and George chickens out

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Patrick Dempsey, Grey's Anatomy

”Grey’s Anatomy”: The pleasures of guilt

Last night around 11, before I started viewing the new Grey’s Anatomy, I was watching the Mets lose game 7 when I texted my friend Evelyn in Texas to ask her how the evening’s episode was. Evelyn likes Grey’s a ton — although she’s overly fond of Cristina, as far as I’m concerned — and I was gunning for her to write me back something pithy and fantastic, something to get me off baseball and psyched to zap up the show on my DVR. The Mets had not yet lost when she wrote me back and said:

”Yeah, it was okay.”

Only okay? It didn’t seem right. The show has gone electric the last couple of episodes. Plenty curious, and sad about the Mets, I zapped it up.

And yeah, it was okay.

That’s not as harsh as it sounds! And I don’t think Evelyn meant it as a knock either. (I’d have texted her to find out, but texting after midnight is generally not polite, especially because I don’t think she was up late drunk.) I think what we all saw tonight was Grey’s, after a nitro-fueled start, settling in for the long season. The last couple of weeks mightily hurled the hooks and fat nightcrawlers into the water, and now we lean back, smile at the horizon, and keep an eye on the bobbers. That’s fun too. If every episode was supercharged — if every episode ended with an $8.7 million giveaway or (if you like that sort of thing) a shot of an absurdly sculpted man in a hotel towel — that would be…Okay, I’m not sure what’s that wrong with supercharging every episode, but all-around, solid-if-unshattering episodes like this one have their place too.

Call me crazy, but I think this ep — called ”Oh, the Guilt” — was about guilt. (If Evelyn and I had done shots every time Meredith said that word in her voice-over, we could’ve texted till dawn.) Izzie feels guilty about the $8.7 million dead Denny left her. Callie feels guilty about sleeping with Mark. Addison feels guilty because she’s never told Derek that she had tried to make it work with Mark before she moved to Seattle. Guilt, guilt, guilt. Karev felt guilty too — he confessed something not that big about Denny and Izzie to Bailey, but it didn’t have much juice to it and was obviously there just to go along with the show’s theme. I like Grey’s better when the thematic stuff hammered into our heads by Meredith’s opening and closing voice-overs is a little more white-noisish, and not so front and center.

One person who didn’t seem to feel so guilty — if I’m wrong, hit me down south — is Cristina. Burke is still grappling with hand tremors after the shooting, and she’s still doing a complicated mix of pushing and pulling back, clearly uncomfortable that he’s not so much of an alpha-surgeon anymore and not really offering much in the way of apologies for it. Sandra Oh, I thought, was nicely subtle tonight as we started to see Cristina get a little softer, but here are my questions: Do Burke and Cristina ever talk about anything fun anymore? Are they as glum at home as they are at work? How can they stand each other? In just a few weeks, they seemed to lose the animating spark that had her crawling on top of him in her underwear. I’d love a scene set in their living room, to find out if these two are still frisky in any sense of the word.

There are other couples to discuss. Man, lots of other couples. Derek and Addison finalized their divorce. Derek gave her the brownstone on Central Park and the house in the Hamptons; he keeps the designer motor home. He apparently feels — oh, wait, I didn’t get this till now! — guilty, because he thinks he cheated more. ”You had an affair,” he says. ”Meredith and I had a relationship.” Nyah nyah nyah! I like Derek. We are sensitive guys and thus fellow travelers, but he’s been inconsistent so far this season, and this was not a good moment for him. Neither was the one late in the episode when Addison finally confesses that Mark wasn’t just a one-night stand, and Derek gets real melodramatic, (And hold up — he couldn’t have guessed that before?) ”I want Seattle and I never wanna see you again!” he yelps. Then he gets in the elevator — the one undoubtedly powered by gnarled-yarn pulleys and wheezy old hunchbacks in the basement, it’s that slow between floors — and Meredith picks then to tell him that she’s dumped Finn, and he can hardly respond, he’s so droopy-lidded again. I’m for droopy-lidded Derek, but this to me was the show stretching a little too hard for its usual goose-pimply effects.

On to Callie and George. She announces to Meredith she has to tell George that she slept with Mark. Then, the next time we see her, when George shows up at her door with a bucket of fried chicken, Callie says she and George are broken up and tosses him to the street. Uh, what did I miss? Isn’t there an inconsistency there? Was she mad he brought chicken? Does she not like extra crispy? I’ve noticed some of you good message posters like to talk about Callie’s heftier figure in relation to her costars’, and I’ve avoided pulling at that thread for obvious reasons, but now I’ll bite: fried chicken? Isn’t that the show’s first — and very dubious — acknowledgment that Sara Ramirez is a bigger woman than her costars? I’m not sure Derek would show up at Meredith’s with a bucket of Church’s. Can you picture Karev and Izzie relighting the fire with facefuls of fried bird? Just wondering. Not a big point, but it does feel like a cliché to throw a bucket of chicken at a curvier or ”realer” character, especially a bucket that should’ve rightly gone to Burke and Cristina, since, as I said, it’d be a relief to see them chilling out and just eating some chicken or something at some point soon.

Who’s left? Izzie. At the beginning of the show, the hospital is investigating her LVAD fiasco with Denny (and we learn that other doctors at Seattle Grace are not nice). And by the end, she’s decided not to cash her mega-check; she’s going to remain a surgeon. The night’s best scene had her schooled by Burke, who delivered a patented grade-A Grey’s speech. (”I’m not fine….You’re not fine….We’re not fine.”) It’s good news that, by the look of it, Katherine Heigl is staying on the show. If she left now, it’d be like Britney quitting after ”Toxic.” She’s at the top of her game. (And Izzie, fittingly, had a new healthy, rouge-y color about her all through this episode.)

Finally, every week I’m always least interested in the wacky medical cases that spice up every episode. I tip my cap to one of this week’s however: Arye Gross, from Soul Man and House II, played a guy who snared his ex-wife’s IUD on his penis piercing during a tryst. (How’d these two even get to the hospital?) Given that Addison was their doctor on the day of her divorce, that was some metaphor. Or was it way too obvious?

What else do you think? Would that guy Savoy, who ragged on Bailey throughout the night, make a good recurring villain? What the hell are Beetle Jump and Samurai Ambush? And lastly, why does Izzie keep saying, ”I have 8 million dollars,” when she actually has 8.7? Shouldn’t she be rounding up to 9?